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Minority professor denied grants because he hires on merit: ‘People are afraid to think’

December 5, 2021

By National Post

An award-winning Canadian scientist said he has been refused two federal government grants for his research on the grounds of “lack of diversity” — even though he is originally from India and has repeatedly suffered racism.

Patanjali Kambhampati, a professor in the chemistry department at Montreal’s McGill University, believes the death knell for the latest grant was a line in the application form where he was asked about hiring staff based on diversity and inclusion considerations. He says his mistake was maintaining that he would hire on merit any research assistant who was qualified, regardless of their identity.

“We will hire the most qualified people based upon their skills and mutual interests,” Kambhampati wrote on the application.

“I’ve had two people say that was the kiss of death,” said Kambhampati. “I thought I was trying to be nice saying that if you were interested and able I’d hire you and that’s all that mattered. I don’t care about the colour of your skin. I’m interested in hiring someone who wants to work on the project and is good at it.”

Kambhampati said he didn’t go public after the first grant was rejected but decided to speak out now because the increasing use by the government of equity, diversity and inclusion, aka “EDI,” provisions, as well as woke culture, are killing innovation, harming science and disrupting society.

“I believe this is an important stand to make. I will not be silenced anymore,” he said.

Kambhampati’s work explores the cutting edge of super-fast laser science, a field that spans everything from telecom to medicine. He believes Canada can become a world leader in the field.

If I want to focus on merit, fairness and equality, then you get called out as a racist or sexist

But his application for a $450,000 grant this month from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) was turned down because, the council said, “the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion considerations in the application were deemed insufficient.”

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